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Render System Advice

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March 17, 2010 3:38:38 AM

Hey everyone I need some advice.

I have recently created a thread on Autodesks website hoping to get an answer from there but the forums there seem to be pretty dead at least in the hardware sub-category.

First I did research on the forums and found some really good threads. In fact I tried to PM one of the guys here who replied a lot on this particular topic who really seems to know his stuff but its been a few days so I will ask the community.

*First my problem:
I have a fairly good last generation system. But it looks like its time to upgrade or build a new one.
Q9550
4GB Kingston 1066 DDR2
GTX 260
300GB Raptor
320GB WD
1000W Corsair PSU
EVGA 780i FTW
Windows 7 Ult

I am into 3D Animation, Modeling, Video Effects including After Effects and Particle effects as in Softimages ICE. I want to produce CG shorts and my friend has a upstart "youtube" type movie studio that I do all the effects for ect.
I have Adobe Master Collection, and the Autodesk Entertainment Creation 2010 which includes 3D Max, Softimage, Maya, Mudbox, and Motionbuilder.

The system held its own on rendering a simple animation scene in 3D Max approx. 5 seconds and output to raw avi.
The video footage I have is in 720p the bitrate is 707788 kbps. Of course I go to edit the video and render in Premier Pro and the program ran out of memory. Multiple attempts resulted in a system crash. And I have/want to render/edit at academy 2K resolution so that I can work on my effects and scale back down to HD 1080p (again a big problem)*

I could simply upgrade my system with 4GB of RAM and another GTX260 to assist in playback (on certain programs). But I think I will just use this hardware to go into an HTPC that I plan to build for the living room and build a really sweet Workstation/Gaming rig.
I have read the article on TomsHardware on how to build your own renderbox so I intend to build a few renderboxes as well.

I will start with the Render box which is based on what I learned in the article from TomsHardware.
Please tell me what you all think of this build. This is the wishlist from Newegg.

RENDERBOX
-------------------------------------------
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

A couple of thoughts on this. I want to use the i7 for Hyperthreading for rendering (go to Boxxtech and watch the video for the 10300 and you will understand). The motherboard could be cheaper but I am under the impression that with the introduction of Autodesks 2011 lineup the GPU now assists in rendering.

Now a few questions.
*Does a renderbox need to be loaded on memory or can I drop one of those 4GB modules (I really dont know how important ram is on a renderbox).
*Can renderboxes utilize graphics cards to also assist in rendering on the new Autodesk 2011 releases. (I ask this and its probably too soon to tell but this would allow me to drop the P55 mobo and save additional money if someone knows the answer to that)
*Should I use an actual Dual slot server board for rendering. Slightly more expensive but is it worth going that direction?

Here is what I built on newegg for the more expensive system

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

Ok I know I dont have your input yet but I plan to either purchase (3) of the cheaper units or (1) of the more expensive units so I really need some good advice.

* This is probably off topic but for those who know what Tesla is, can that even be considered for rendering at this time? If so I would be serious enough to consider getting a system based on Tesla and would like to be further educated on how to implement it.

-------------------------------------------

Ok now I will move to the Workstation / Gaming Rig I would like to build.

WORKSTATION

-------------------------------------------

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

ok thoughts on this. I wanted to go with a 1156 system because I am by no means an extreme gamer and 1156 seems to be the current focus even though 1366 is apparently evolving on its own with the 1156 system. Naturally i7-860 because I certainly can't justify 200+ dollars for the extra 130 mhz for the next and only step up. I want to max out the ram which I know when working with HD and above needs to be maxed out. and of course a nice P55 mobo with at least SLI. ** What you dont see here is the Nvidia Fermi cards I plan on purchasing. Again not a huge gamer but I will use non "stereo" based graphics cards so that I can game. I will probably go with EVGA's offering of the 470 or 480.

Please critique this system and if, in the end it is worth serving as a workstation. I would prefer to keep my Gaming Rig / Workstation the same but will make separate builds if it ultimately keeps me from my goals.

Is 16GB of Ram going to be enough :o 

I built a 1366 system of the same which offers a 24GB option but will rendering and editing in HD REALLY need that much ram?

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

-------------------------------------------


LAST REMARKS

If you actually read all of this thank you and Im really sorry its long winded. Im sure I could have just said hey guys what do you think of this.
I am really trying to save money here because believe me my wife (who does her fair share of spending) does not understand why I need this equipment to follow a passion and hobby of mine. I work hard for my money and would like to, in the end, save as much as I can while achieving my goals here. Yes this is nice equipment that you and I all know will be outdated damn near as soon as I really start to make use of it.

I have considered AMD as a cheaper alternative but I prefer Intel.
I have build many AMD rigs for my friends who game with me and often I ask myself why I dont go the cheaper route. In fact I built myself an Opteron server which is sitting upstairs right now. So its not that Im a fan boy I just prefer Intel. (I probably should have just left that alone, I really want good advice)

Thank you very much in advance.

ps. I would like to know about my Tesla question if you read from above.

More about : render system advice

March 17, 2010 4:08:22 AM

Don't buy a 45nm Xeon when 32nm Xeons are just around the corner. Wait for a Xeon E5620 (2.40GHz, 80W, 5.86GT/s QPI) - list price is supposed to be $387.

Remember that s1366 has some advantages, particularly when used in your kind of environment. It has 50% more theoretical memory bandwidth, and well over 10x as much bandwidth for devices (drive traffic, network traffic, other expansion card traffic).

Why not just build one really good s1366 system (ie: single Xeon E5620 based) and use it for both? People are already overclocking the engineering sample 32nm quad Xeons to well over 5ghz, so 4hz should be a walk in the park for a Xeon E5620 (especially considering most 45nm quads do 4ghz easily). At that speed it would probably be as fast as your proposed dual Xeon E5520 renderbox, and use less power.
March 17, 2010 8:05:26 AM

I just looked up the Westmere procs and they look B.A., apparently launched today so good call on the around the corner.
I am particularly interested in the E5645 6 core.
I went to the EVGA website and at least for the time this particular series will not be compatible with the X58 series coming up on the bios 49 revision, and from the sound of it wont be. Im guessing a new board is in the making? Who knows.
I would prefer a Prosumer market board and would like to avoid a server board to run this for the purpose of gaming. I have experienced server boards and gaming and they do have there limitation. I am referencing the Opteron server I have upstairs which had a 7950GT <-- at the time this was a $300 upper tier card but between the ECC Ram and just being a workstation system games definately played but not for speed.

Thank you for the heads up on that. At least now I can wait a few weeks and get my hands on a 6 core.

I still have some un-answered questions though.
Is a render-node need lots of RAM? Since its only function in life is to process parts of a scene for animation.

I will take this one question at a time. I realize that a lot of what I wrote above probably got a once over very quickly.

Thanks All,

and jclw thanks again for bringing that to my attention.
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March 17, 2010 8:47:02 AM

I aspire to do the same thing, but lucky for me, I can wait for PCIe3.0 before I go ALL IN on a major platform upgrade.

Regardless of what you can afford, what you need is a Core i7-930 (clocked on air) and 6GB or 12GB of 3 Channel CAS7 DDR3.

BUT ... THE MOST important component is the GPU and you cannot do with less than a PNY QuadroFX 1800 (or the "soon-to-release" replacement for it).

This CUDA card is the "whole deal" ... (supported by the i930 + DDR3).

You also might consider one or more SSDs and a dedicated "render to" drive, if you want to render "Like Grease Thru a Goose".

The GPU really is paramount and is (pretty much) absolutely dictated by the system requirements of your listed toolset and your intended operations.

... prolly didn't want to hear that ... prolly can't afford it either.

You COUlD go with an AM3 BLACK QUAD and 8GB of Dual Channel CAS7 DDR3 ...

You COULD go with a Socket 1156 Core i7-860 and 8GB of same.

The QuadroFX1800 really is not negotiable (in my eyes), tho. Gotta do that.

If you insist on the gamers card, then, yeah, nVidia ... definately ... NOT ATi ...

GTX 260 or above ... maybe two.

= Al =
March 17, 2010 1:00:46 PM

From what I've read all current s1366 boards are physically supposed to be able to run the 32nm chips, so it's just up to the manufacturer to provide a BIOS.

Personally I'd go Gigabyte or Asus, but that's just me.

review: http://it.anandtech.com/IT/showdoc.aspx?i=3769

I don't know how much memory your applications will use. I'd start with 12GB. Especially since you'll probably not be able to run your memory as fast and/or as tight with 24GB. Although the 32nm chips are supposed to handle larger quantities of memory better then the 45nm chips.
March 17, 2010 1:03:48 PM

Or go Nehalem-EX:



(4x 8 cores + HT = 64 virtual cores, 512GB memory)
March 17, 2010 6:36:49 PM

Thats like a Boxxtech 10300 setup there. Very impressive Im jealous.
Well I did some research and it looks like I have to re-evaluate everything I have put together. I guess it makes sense. Usually February is when the electronic's industry liquidates and updates especially the computer market. Guess I have been too busy and didnt bother looking up anything new. Fermi was the only thing that has really had my interest.

So I did some research as I was saying.
http://www.evga.com/products/moreInfo.asp?pn=270-WS-W55... Family&series=Intel 5520 Series Family

Check out that sweet board and I will pair it with (2) E5645 6 core. Im thinking this is going to be a sweet deal.

In reference to what Alvin said about getting a Quadro card, Fermi is being reference a lot on sites like cgsociety.org and others for being able to bring real time rendering with ray-tracing ect and is in fact being referenced on 3D app websites themselves with statements like (rendered with this cpu, mem, with fermi GT100 card in 10 minutes ect) just pointing that out.

* Alvin you are right Quadro cards have there place but I did have a Quadro FX 3400 with the Opteron workstation/server I have. While I cannot provide specs with rendering while I had it under Max 6 and then upgraded to max 8 I can say that I did not see much of a difference when I went to the 7950GT. Im sure there are differences but in my research into Stereo based graphics cards I have not seen evidence that they really make that much of a difference (although I have not worked in the industry and Im simply an enthusiast/hobbyist) so if Im wrong thats all you have to say Im just stating my observations on my move from the Quadro family to a dual use card .. gaming/rendering. Of course Quadro cards have their place or they wouldnt exist.

* Still curious about a Render Node Ram requirements. It's easy to assume that working with HD would require a render node to be full of RAM but since its not my workstation and its only function is to render scenes should it be loaded with ram or will a minimum amount work just as well?
March 18, 2010 3:56:32 AM

I wouldn't be all that surprized if you were absolutely correct about the Quadro not being "all that" ... I am just (mostly) parroting system requirements and recommended system configs from Adobe partners and AutoDesk, etc., so if it is something more of a "Marketing Guild" or partner alliance, yeah, I'd find that to be believable.

As far as RAM goes ? ... I have to say I am of the "The more the better" school, there, because (1) Windows sees and uses all it can get ... (2) Because many 3D apps use memory as modelling space ... (3) because more RAM means less HDD disk access (100 times slower than ram ... more) and, so, less paging/swapping. ... (4) Graphics (in general) demand moving huge blocks od data (at whatever depth). ... (5) Memory is at the center of system operations and all data and instructions pass through it at least once, during any process, therefore, any number of ops and apps will benefit ever moreso, as true multi-threaded apps become the norm.

And by that last point, I mean that adding GDDR will only help your graphics subsystem, while Main System Memory (investment) helps ALL subsystems (including the graphics subsystem, to whatever extent.

... More Ram is Good ... (one good place to invest) ...

... SSDs ... They will prolly speed up your whole life more than you think ...

Storage is orders of magnitude slower than all the rest. That has been a pain since before PCs. Hail SSDs !!

= Al =

!